Another year is coming to an end and I feel like I’m being buried alive. Again. Figuratively speaking of course. It’s this time of year that I try to scale back, to down size, to get out from under. I don’t always realize my goals.
So far, unless there’s something unique about where I live, I continue to see MORE paper. I still like reading the newspaper every morning with breakfast but I donate it afterwards to a charity paper recycling bin. The charity gets paid by weight and the money is used to support their food bank.
The use of weekly paper flyers is also thriving. Yards and reams are folded into newspapers as well as delivered to our doorsteps—for our convenience. To help us compare-shop by letting our fingers do the walking in the comfort of our homes. The big advertisers are grocery stores chains. Weekly ads for replacement windows, furniture store sales, hardware stores and home renovation suppliers and so on are also included.
Even as I complain about this proliferation by the ton, I have also become accustomed to the convenience and have been known to moan occasionally when missed by the delivery boy / girl. I save gas and time. Still, I feel less guilt in knowing I will later recycle to a good cause. I never said I was perfect.
Junk in my (snail) mail box hasn’t decreased much either. Advertisers still love paper. Heaven forbid we forget for one moment who they are and what they can do for us. Thankfully, Christmas and Boxing Week sales are almost over. Already I’ve seen less advertising and not a moment too soon. Oh, I mustn’t forget the White Sales advertising coming in January. Did I say it was over? Almost and soon—for a while anyway. I can hope, can’t I?
Christmas wrapping paper as well as gift bags and boxes (bows and ribbons) haven’t disappeared either. I’ve asked several friends how they feel about all this excess paper and to my surprise most consider that it’s just once a year so what’s the big deal? Uh-huh. And what happens when you stop to multiply that by how many millions of gift givers? Wrapping paper mostly ends up in garbage bags and doesn’t get recycled. Gift bags and boxes? Hopefully. Might they be reused the following year? Maybe. Thrown out or recycled? Thrown out would be my guess. But not by me!
Before Christmas, I was rather proud of myself for shredding a ton of old bills, receipts and personal stuff. My filing cabinets got thinned out at last. I was then forced to file all the new paper that has been overflowing on my desk, falling out of my IN box, stacked in my book shelves, and drawers etc. Once filed properly, I am once more able to find things and function properly. Next year will bring more of the same cycle: file, shred, recycle. What a vicious circle (but the paper trail is needed to prove a point should something go wrong with a purchase or whatnot).
Then there are brochures and manuals. Just about everything you purchase has some kind of warranty or manual or instructions. Some you can access online but still there are many that provide skimpy paper copies (which can still only be deciphered by a five-year-old) but are necessary to keep—just in case—at least for a while.
Last but not least, there are books: fat ones, thin ones; hardcover and softcover, in different shapes and sizes. Some I love to touch just because of the artwork on their covers. I love the feel, weight and smell of their paper. I am besotted by books. They are my constant friends and eager companions. And they are made of paper.
Am I being buried alive by them too? Some would say I am even if I don’t see it. Last count showed I have about twenty-three hundred books. I might have missed entering the odd title and author into my spreadsheet (otherwise I wouldn’t have a clue how many reside with me). Space is running out again and I have tried to cutback, trade and donate but most I just can’t part with. I’ve tried but am rarely successful.
At least once a year, however, I DO force myself to trade a bag or two just to make room for new arrivals. Working in a bookstore doesn’t help either but I am not alone. All of us bookstore workers are its best customers.
One of my bookstore duties is sorting: old, stinky, torn, once waterlogged and puffed out books. These are tossed in the recycle bin. Hardcovers are ripped off spines and separated. Other books, under various other guidelines, are tossed also. This is traumatizing to the ninth degree. I hate trashing books!
The weight of paper is holding my house up. Happy New Year to all book lovers everywhere.